Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Texas and Mexico, July/August 2014, Jeremy Griesse

In the eyes of just four of us who went, this 10-day trip was a small, shiny diamond fashioned by God's provision, testimonies, and encouragement.
Aaron drove like a hoss for the whole trip a van with working AC (most of the time), as Savannah, Gennie and I rode along. The joyful, peaceful time with my brother and sisters in Christ on the way down made the 15.5 hr trip from Springfield to South TX go by fast--maybe not to Aaron, who respectively had to be awake this whole time.
This small team watched intently at how God displayed His endeavors being accomplished in His church in the three areas we visited through joy, hurt, discipline, repentance, labor, trust, patience, perseverance, prayer, wisdom, generosity, and grace.
As we met with familiar, friendly Hispanic believers, some conversations involved laughing and relaxing. Some were in awe and reverence at His amazing work of redemption through His Son. Sometimes we had to knuckle down and get to work in moving and documenting supplies or preparing resources for a VBS. Other times involved goofing off, playing soccer on a basketball court, singing Feliz Navidad in August, and cooling off with popsicles and ice cream. All of these times were together just a sliver of God's smiling face, a mere ten days of joy that felt like a minute.
The kindness and generosity seen in the both the Hispanic/Caucasian congregation of Trinity Baptist Church near South TX and Hispanic co-laborers in the Rio Grande Valley area was alone worth the trip. 
We studied some encouraging key truths in Daniel with the brothers and sisters at Trinity, and enjoyed their openness and immediate friendship as we shared a couple Sunday meals.
In the Valley, we met with brothers and sisters from a past church that Psalm 67 worked closely with. Lotta testimonies, lotta joy, lotta food. The Francisco's, namely, lavished us with stories of God's faithfulness and redemptive power in their family, as well as a barbecue feast. I have boasted to her and others for her grilled chicken, saying I would pay $20 for just one piece at a restaurant if I knew it was that good. (I'm not exaggerating, she knows how to do it!)
While in Mexico, I was envious of the time Psalm 67 has previously spent with the congregation in Mexico. Seeing Pastor Candido, Sara, Damaris, Ely, Gil, Abdiel and others in different means of servitude and fellowship was both refreshing and made me want to be with them more.
They helped Savannah and Gennie conduct and prepare a last-minute VBS inviting spirited, lively kids to take part in learning about Christ's reign over the earth. 
My role in the VBS was to provide guitar background as beautiful, rambunctious kids learned different worship songs. I'm grateful that I can't feel my left fingers as I'm typing since we played so many pretty Spanish praise songs.
I also have much gratitude for Sara's patience as we struggled to communicate in alien languages which songs to sing! It was encouraging to witness these "teologitos" (Aaron's term for little theologians) answer tough, but elemental questions about what they had learned in God's Word, as well as key verses they memorized.
A portion of our p.m. time in Mexico, we visited a couple rehab centers inhabiting men, young and old, who have literally been plucked out of their wretched addictions, yet more proof of God's redemptive power. Though these places seem dismal at first glance, the simplicity of their eager welcome and intentional listening has made these groups of men a dear favorite of Psalm 67 and Pastor Candido's church to minister to. One center takes their liberty in Christ very seriously as they dance, sing, jump, and shout in joyful response to their Lord's work in their lives. Not trying to step on anyone's toes here (no pun intended), but we would do the same if we truly knew our redeemed state from distant rebellion to God's loving arms, no?
It was painful to come back, especially since I spent such a concentrated amount of time with my brothers and sisters in Christ, something my soul hasn't been quite used to, unfortunately. But it seemed like God planted a fitly longing for fellowship with Him, as if these ten days were just pictures of the extravagant feast to those who have believed in the ransoming Lamb will be invited.
Praise God for His mercy and grace and may we compel others to partake in His sacrifice!

Romans 5:6-8